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Green harvest - Saskatchewan's sustainable crop mastery

Green harvest - Saskatchewan's sustainable crop mastery

By Jean-Paul McDonald

Saskatchewan's farmers are not just cultivating crops; they're cultivating a greener future. A recent study by the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) conducted in 2022, highlights this remarkable achievement.   

It compared the carbon footprint of five key Canadian crops - canola, non-durum wheat, field peas, durum wheat, and lentils, the study found Saskatchewan's methods emit significantly less greenhouse gases than their global counterparts. 

Dr.  Steve Webb, GIFS CEO, emphasized, "These impressive results are driven by the widespread adoption in Saskatchewan of agricultural innovations and sustainable farming practices. "  

The study illustrates a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions due to practices like reduced tillage, herbicide-tolerant canola, variable-rate fertilizer application, and a robust crop rotation system.  For instance, Saskatchewan's canola production has a 67% lower carbon footprint than the global average. 

Saskatchewan's approach to agriculture also includes nitrogen-fixing pulse crops and no-till farming, significantly reducing the carbon footprint of field peas by over 95% compared to other regions.   

For lentils, the carbon footprint is astoundingly 130% lower. The study's findings also account for soil carbon sequestration, showcasing Saskatchewan's smallest carbon footprint across all crop types. 

Agriculture Minister David Marit praised these achievements, saying, “Saskatchewan is one of the most sustainable producers of safe and nutritious food.” This study reaffirms USask's century-long dedication to agricultural research and innovation.  

"USask has been advancing Saskatchewan's agricultural research and production for a century with innovative science and sustainable policies. We're proud of this study's results and are confident that our faculty and students will keep pioneering solutions for future environmental and agricultural challenges," remarked Baljit Singh, Vice-President of Research at USask. 

It provides a detailed understanding of the contributions of agronomic practices to sustainable food production, shaping future science-based regulations and policies. 

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Agriculture is one of the many activities that can help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) from the atmosphere. World’s soils are the second largest carbon sink, second only to oceans. Strong scientific evidence shows that on-farm technology coupled with the widespread adoption of regenerative and climate-smart agriculture practices – such as no-till, cover crop and nutrient and manure management – can reduce GHGs emissions through avoidance and sequestration.


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